SENECA’S RESEMBLANCES TO SCRIPTURE.
And yet in a very high sense of the word Seneca may be called, as he is called in the title of this book, a Seeker after God; and the resemblances to the sacred writings which may be found in the pages of his works are numerous and striking. A few of these will probably interest our readers, and will put them in a better position for understanding how large a measure of truth and enlightenment had rewarded the honest search of the ancient philosophers. We will place a few such passages side by side with the texts of Scripture which they resemble or recall.
1. God’s Indwelling Presence.
“Know ye not that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?” asks St. Paul (1 Cor. iii. 16).
“God is near you, is with you, is within you,” writes Seneca to his friend Lucilius, in the 41st of those Letters which abound in his most valuable moral reflections; “a sacred Spirit dwells within us, the observer and guardian of all our evil and our good ... there is no good man without God.”
And again (Ep. 73): “Do you wonder that man goes to the gods? God comes to men: nay, what is yet nearer; He comes into men. No good mind is holy without God.”
2. The Eye of God.
“All things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Heb. iv. 13.)
“Pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.” (Matt. vi. 6.)
Seneca (On Providence, 1): “It is no advantage that conscience is shut within us; we lie open to God.”
Letter 83: “What advantage is it that anything is hidden from man? Nothing is closed to God: He is present to our minds, and enters into our central thoughts.”
Letter 83: “We must live as if we were living in sight of all men; we must think as though some one could and can gaze into our inmost breast.”
3. God is a Spirit.
St. Paul, “We ought not to think that the God-head is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” (Acts xvii. 29.)
Seneca (Letter 31): “Even from a corner it is possible to spring up into heaven: rise, therefore, and form thyself into a fashion worthy of God; thou canst not do this, however, with gold and silver: an image like to God cannot be formed out of such materials as these.”
4. Imitating God.
“Be ye therefore followers ([Greek: mimaetai], imitators) of God, as dear children.” (Eph. v. 1.)
“He that in these things [righteousness, peace, joy in the Holy Ghost] serveth Christ is acceptable to God.” (Rom. xiv. 18.)
Seneca (Letter 95): “Do you wish to render the gods propitious? Be virtuous. To honour them it is enough to imitate them.”